USING ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH TO ENHANCE STUDENT LEARNING IN GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION
This study entails environmental research performed by a group of high school students and mainly focuses on an investigation of the presence of heavy metals in sediments and waters of selected watersheds and public parks in the New York City and adjacent vicinities. Field work was performed by students to gain information about the study areas and to collect samples. Measurements of soil and water qualities including pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen content, temperature, and classifying sediments were performed at the sites. Concentration of heavy metals was detected using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS).
Through this research, students gained confidence and were able to organize their data, communicate with scientists and researchers in public and private sectors to discuss ideas related to their research, create electronic maps of the study areas, write scientific papers, and present their findings in public and professional meetings. Gradually, students discovered for themselves and experience the research as a dynamic part of the scientific method instead of a static body of principles and theories. In addition, they explored the interconnection between the applied science and society.
The great challenge in this study was providing students with opportunities for authentic open-ended investigations that are safe and provide them with a long-term experience that stays for the life time.